Which Starbucks Items Are Gluten-Free? (Updated May 2018)

Can you enjoy blended drinks at Starbucks? What about snacks?

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starbucks gluten-free
Jane M. Anderson

If you enjoy stopping at Starbucks, you probably don't want to quit your habit just because you've been diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and are following the gluten-free diet. So which Starbucks products are gluten-free, and which have gluten in them?

Good news: there are multiple drinks (including a few coffee drinks) and several snacks you can enjoy when you're eating gluten-free at Starbucks, including:

  • plain coffee
  • plain (unflavored) espresso, latte and cappuccino
  • most bottled drinks (see list below)
  • gluten-free marshmallow dream bar
  • gluten-free breakfast sandwich
  • packaged gluten-free snacks, including POP! popcorn and Justin's peanut and almond butter products (varies by store)

However, you need to exercise caution when ordering most barista-crafted drinks, since some ingredients used in those drinks may contain gluten.

Here's a rundown of gluten-free items available at Starbucks.

Starbucks Drinks

Bottled drinks

Drinks contained in the refrigerator case are mostly gluten-free. Your gluten-free choices include:

  • Ethos bottled water
  • Fruit juices (Evolution brand and others)
  • Bottled Starbucks drinks, including Starbucks Frappuccino, Starbucks Doubleshot, and Starbucks Doubleshot Energy (these are made by PepsiCo)

Watch out for "green" juice and smoothie blends in the refrigerator case, since they may contain wheat grass as an ingredient.

Always double-check ingredients on everything before purchasing.

Blended Drinks

If you want a gluten-free coffee drink prepared by a Starbucks barista, stick with one of the following:

  • plain coffee
  • plain latte
  • plain cappuccino
  • plain espresso
  • plain flat white

Flavored coffee drinks at Starbucks can pose a problem for those of us who avoid gluten.

According to the company's corporate customer service personnel, no drinks prepared at the stores are considered gluten-free due to the possibility of gluten cross-contamination from gluten-containing products and ingredients. Many people have reported getting glutened by various flavored coffee treats from Starbucks.

However, those plain coffee drinks (espresso or brewed coffee) should be gluten-free to well below 20 parts per million. Most people also have good luck with plain milk-based drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes.

If you avoid dairy, Starbucks' soy milk (the company's own house brand) is considered gluten-free to 20 parts per million, according to the baristas. Be aware that the baristas do use the same steaming wand to steam both soy and regular milk, so if you react badly to either, you may want to stick with plain coffee or espresso.

You can run into trouble when you order some of the more interesting flavored hot and iced coffee drinks. Starbucks doesn't provide ingredient lists for its various syrups and other mixes used to create beverages such as the holiday Pumpkin Spice Latte and Caramel Hot Chocolate, in part because ingredients can vary from store to store and at different times.

There's some evidence that caramel is the problematic gluten-containing ingredient, but a Starbucks representative won't confirm or deny this.

There's also conflicting information on whether Starbucks' frappuccino mix contains gluten. Regardless, other ingredients (such as the java chips and some of the sprinkles) definitely contain gluten, and the equipment to blend those drinks is simply rinsed, not cleaned thoroughly, in between uses.

Therefore, if you must have a frappuccino-style drink, stick with the bottled, gluten-free-labeled options from the cooler (all of which are manufactured by PepsiCo.

for Starbucks).

You can check ingredients lists at the individual stores for yourself (the baristas should know, although knowledge varies depending on whom you ask), and potentially order a drink that's free of gluten ingredients. Still, beware of the large potential for cross-contamination when ordering one of these drinks—many people have reported problems with them.

The bottom line: plain coffee or espresso-milk drinks may be okay, but blended and flavored drinks are extremely risky.

Tea

If you're a hot tea drinker, Starbucks offers both plain and flavored teas. Some of the flavored teas may contain gluten, so your best bet is to order plain black or green tea. Because the same tongs are used to dispense all tea bags at Starbucks, you risk some slight gluten cross-contamination by ordering tea there. You can ask the barista to use clean tongs to grab your tea bag.

Starbucks plain iced tea (black or green tea) is gluten-free.

Bakery Items

Starbucks has added a gluten-free breakfast sandwich to its menu. The gluten-free smoked Canadian bacon sandwich features "cherrywood-smoked Canadian bacon, a peppered egg patty and reduced-fat white cheddar cheese on a gluten-free roll." According to the company, the sandwich is prepared in a certified gluten-free environment and comes in its own oven-safe parchment bag so that it can be cooked in stores' ovens alongside gluten-y breakfast offerings.

The company also offers its gluten-free marshmallow dream bar (usually found near the register). This treat is made by La Boulange, Starbucks' in-house bakery arm that obviously also produces gluten-containing items. According to a Starbucks representative, the gluten-free-labeled treats are produced in the same facility but "in separate rooms" to guard against cross-contamination during processing. The products should meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration minimum gluten-free standard of fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten.

Starbucks also offers Kind bars, which are prominently labeled gluten-free, and occasionally, individual Starbucks locations will feature gluten-free packaged cookies, as well. However, beyond those few bakery items, it can be discouraging for those of us who follow the gluten-free diet to ogle the bakery case and know there's nothing in there for us.

Packaged Food Items

Most Starbucks branches do carry two or three additional packaged snack products that are labeled gluten-free. For example, some stores carry POP! brand popcorn, which is certified gluten-free, and some other chips that are labeled gluten-free. In addition, I've seen Justin's Peanut Butter Cups, which are certified gluten-free. You'll find these snacks right at the counter where you order.

Some Starbucks stores also are carrying Evolution brand snacks. Note that some of these—not all—are certified gluten-free; make sure you choose a package with the "GF" symbol displayed on the back. You should assume those Evolution snacks that don't say "gluten-free" are not safe.

A Word From Verywell

If you're hungry and just looking for a quick snack, you should be able to find one at Starbucks, especially those that carry the rice crispies bar (which seems to be all most of them). As for drinks, you can order an unflavored coffee or stick with a bottled option.

But Starbucks continues to shy away from truly catering to the growing gluten-free community. This may change—Starbucks is coming under pressure from its own shareholders for avoiding gluten-free products—but as of now, you need to be very careful of what you order at Starbucks.

Source:

Celiac Disease Foundation. What Should I Eat? Fact Sheet.